Amphetamine, 10(-7) M or greater, evoked the release of [3H]dopamine ([3H]DA) and inhibited subsequent K+-evoked [3H]DA release from striatal synaptosomes superfused at a flow rate (1 ml/min) that prevented reuptake. Amphetamine inhibited the K+-evoked release of [3H]DA to a lesser extent in striatal slices or in synaptosomes superfused at a flow rate (0.35 ml/min) that allowed reuptake. The observed decrease in amphetamine inhibition of K+-evoked release was primarily due to amphetamine blocking [3H]DA reuptake. Interneuronal interactions may account for some of the inhibitory effects of amphetamine on K+-evoked release in the slice. Inhibition of K+-evoked release from either slices or synaptosomes was still evident when 10(-6) M amphetamine was removed from the superfusion buffer and the spontaneous release had returned to control levels. The presence of Ca++ during amphetamine exposure was required for subsequent inhibition of K+-evoked release in synaptosomes. Amphetamine in the presence of Ca++ did not affect the subsequent release of [3H]DA evoked by the Ca++ ionophore, A23187. Therefore, amphetamine inhibition of the K+-evoked release of [3H]DA cannot be explained by prior depletion of Ca++-releasable pools. Nifedipine, 1 microM, failed to block either the Ca++-dependent release of [3H]DA or the inhibition of K+-evoked release by amphetamine. However, 1 mM cobalt inhibited the Ca++-dependent release of [3H]DA by amphetamine and antagonized the inhibition of K+-evoked release after amphetamine exposure. This suggests that amphetamine may open voltage-dependent Ca++ channels sensitive to cobalt but not nifedipine. Amphetamine may desensitize these voltage-dependent Ca++ channels and inhibit their activation by K+ depolarization.